World Breastfeeding Week brings awareness to the struggles and joys of breastfeeding

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Monday marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week-- a week devoted to bringing awareness to the struggles and joys of breastfeeding.

A group of local moms who choose to breastfeed took steps to share experiences, get encouragement, and learn new ideas.

“I decided to breastfeed just because it was beneficial for Blakely, my daughter, her health,” said mom Michelle Dooley.

“I was just going to give it a try and see if it worked,” added Whitney Sherwood, another mom.

Moms and breastfeeding supporters came to St. Luke’s East Hospital to send a message.

“The St. Luke`s Health System looks at breastfeeding as not only a lifestyle choice, but also as a Health Care issue,” said Marji Stark, a Lactation Consultant at the hospital.

Stark leads the breastfeeding support group offered at the hospital every Monday.

“If all moms would nurse for the first six months exclusively, the U.S. would save over 13 billion dollars a year in health care costs,” Stark added.

Sherwood, a stay-at-home mom, says the support group really helped her, and says many places across the metro are now making it easier for nursing moms.

“I know the Royals have a nice place for breastfeeding moms to go, the mall has a nice place, just places around town, the word gets out among moms about where you can go when you`re out,” Sherwood said.

Moms like Michelle Dooley -- who also work full-time --say thankfully some workplaces are very accommodating.

“They definitely said, `hey, whenever you need to go pump, just let us know, we`ll cover for you, and they`re so supportive, and I had my own little room,” said Dooley.

But she's certain not every mom has it so easy.

“I think it might be a little struggle for working moms, just because I think they might not feel as comfortable, especially depending on the work environment, I think they are more accommodating because they have to,” added Dooley.

Stark says it's important that moms advocate for themselves and breastfeed if they can.

“Breast milk and formula are very, very different. We`re thankful we have formula when it`s necessary, but it`s not like choosing between Coke and Pepsi, very different,” said Stark.

Stark says for a variety of reasons, breastfeeding doesn't work for all women, and they realize that.

She says they offer support for all new moms, no matter how they decide to feed their newborns.

“Healthy baby, healthy mom are the big goals!” added Stark.

There are laws in place to also help nursing moms.

In Missouri -- businesses with 15 or more employees are required to give nursing moms three breaks a day.

In both Missouri and Kansas, mothers are allowed to breastfeed anywhere they have the right to be.